New Book: The Equality Machine: Harnessing Digital Technology for a Brighter, More Inclusive Future

Posted by Stanford Social Innovation Review on October 25, 2022

Speech is uniquely intimate and human, yet digital personal assistants, chatbots, language translation, text-to-speech, and speech-to-text are increasingly integrated into every aspect of our lives. These technologies are often developed in a skewed way that is not representative of the varied speech patterns, language usage, and accents of most. In this excerpt from The Equality Machine, I describe a path forward in creating more inclusive digital speech.

Social activism, consumer choice, crowdsourcing, and open-sourced projects are crucial for creating a digital platform representative of its users. Crowdsourcing voice samples from all over the world can correct the reality that most voice recognition technologies are developed exclusively for English speakers while languages spoken by smaller or poorer populations are often left behind. Making speech technology that “sounds like me”—no matter where I live—requires public grants and collective efforts to gather voice data from many sources.

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